Healing Through Breath and Meditation
A lot has been written and said about the benefits of meditation. It may help to relieve stress, improve concentration, control anxiety, foster kindness, increase patience, tolerance, and so on. It can propel one to slow down, allowing a deeper reflection of the self to transpire. Meditation has helped me transcend thought, not letting my worries threaten my well-being.
Initially, all of this sounded a bit too heavy to comprehend. There are a host of techniques available on social media platforms to choose and it can be hard to pick one. Books such as The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Amazing Results Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay had brought a shift in my thinking and helped me practice self-inquiry.
Over the past few years, the ongoing battle with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) has made me particularly vulnerable. Initially, HS appeared like a fierce form of acne in areas such as the armpits, breasts, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks. They are painful and drain foul-smelling fluid. This had elicited a wide range of emotions like anger, grief, fear, and depression.
Dealing with the complications of stage 2 had thrown life out of gear. It had become blatantly implausible to sit with eyes closed and avail the benefits of looking inward. But I do admit to having given up very quickly. Moreover, reading motivational quotes, listening to online lecture series by The Dalai Lama, interviews of Dr.Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey provide a quick timely burst of wisdom offering a source of inspiration, hope, and solace much needed during trying times. So why meditate, was a question I would often ponder upon.
Healing through breath and meditation
Since my diagnosis, I had been experimenting with various medicines and treatments such as antibiotics, steroids, hormonal therapy, retinoids, Ayurveda, and homeopathy. A few treatment plans helped lessen the symptoms. But it had become increasingly tiring to embrace the constant cycle of flare-ups that kept gnawing at my skin.
That’s when a friend suggested SKY (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga), a technique that helps deal with stress particularly related to a medical illness. It involves learning and practicing a few rhythmic and cyclical breathing processes. Moreover, independent studies published by Yale News, Cambridge University Press, Penn Medicine News, Harvard Medical School and many more have shown a significant decrease in cortisol levels among participants who practiced SKY. It also reduces the effect of mental trauma, improves sleep quality, provides healthier heart rate and blood pressure values, increases antioxidant production, and so on.
Just like waking up early, staying hydrated, eating on time, or reciting positive affirmations, I added SKY to my checklist. It became an integral part of my daily routine.
What really is meditation?
For a long time, I tried very hard to understand and decode mediation. My overthinking mind analyzed everything. In the process, I realized that the more I tried to get a grip on it, the harder it was to experience the subtleties of the process. Moreover, I was in a hurry to notice positive changes and avail the benefits of the process rather than enjoy the technique itself. This had, by far, been the biggest impediment to practicing mindfulness.
Initially, what I failed to understand was that meditation is the opposite of concentration. But after having learned how to meditate under the guidance of a teacher, I succeeded a great deal in letting go/focusing less on repeated behavioral patterns or negative emotions that would drain my energy levels.
Meditation, however, is an ongoing practice. In the long run, it can help to harness the untapped potential and strength which lies hidden in each one of us. I surely have taken the necessary steps to manage HS and thankfully my symptoms have been under check ever since. But utilizing tools such as mediation, yoga, and practicing a few breathing techniques have contributed largely to healing emotional scars. Furthermore, it has helped me accept the existence of the condition which has been a part of the resolution.
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